Adio Kerida (Dir. Ruth Behar)
furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sat May 24 18:37:54 MDT 2003
***** Adio Kerida
Produced and Directed by Ruth Behar
Adio Kerida is a personal documentary about the search for identity
and history among Sephardic Jews with roots in Cuba. The title is
borrowed from a Sephardic love song in order to highlight the themes
of expulsion, departure, and exile that are at the crux of the
Sephardic legacy. At the same time, the title invokes the creative
energy that is injected into a culture when it crosses racial,
ethnic, and national lines. It also has a personal dimension and
references the desire for reconciliation between the filmmaker and
her Sephardic father.
Intimate interviews with Sephardic Jews in Cuba and Cuban Miami, as
well as family stories, are meshed with probing footage of
dilapidated Jewish cemeteries and new Judaic rituals in Cuba to
create a filmic memoir that offers a uniquely poetic and humanistic
Adio Kerida begins with the Cuban-born filmmaker's own search for
memory in Cuba. Having left as a child, she cannot remember Cuba. So
she returns over and over to the island to see what she can learn
about herself and "her people" in the Cuba of today. She discovers
that the one thousand Jews remaining on the island, almost all of
them Sephardic, are constantly being observed, photographed, filmed,
and given charity by Jewish tourists from the United States who have
recently discovered the exotic tribe of "Castro's Jews" and want to
see them in action before they disappear.
As a Cuban Sephardic Jew herself, the filmmaker refrains from
treating the Jews on the island as a sad group of castaways and
delves deeply into the way the members of the Sephardic Jewish
community in Cuba bring meaning, joy, song, and laughter to their
everyday lives. While the filmmaker's story informs her journey, it
never overpowers the stories of her protagonists, each of whom is
seen as an individual with his or her compelling quest to create an
identity out of the mixture of Cuban and Sephardic cultural elements.
Conversion, intermarriage, and cultural mixing, or mestizaje, are
recurrent themes in the stories. The cinematography and the narrative
are juxtaposed with music that transcends the history being told with
Afro-Cuban drumming, Jewish liturgical music, Sephardic love songs,
tangos, boleros, oud solos, flamenco, Cuban salsa, and American jazz.
The diverse range of forms embraced by Cuban Sephardim becomes a
vivid presence in the documentary. Song, music, and dance emerge as a
vital necessity in the lives of the Sephardic Jews of Cuba.
In Cuba, we hear the voices of Afro-Cuban children who affirm their
Sephardic heritage, adult men and women who were hidden Jews and have
returned to their faith through conversion, and elderly Jews who
celebrate Che Guevara's legacy, sing tango songs and love songs, and
explore the fine line between forgetting and remembering.
In Miami, we hear from sellers of good luck charms, a gay hairdresser
who celebrates the marriage of his Cuban Sephardic mother and Cuban
Catholic father, a belly-dancer who merges flamenco, Afro-Cuban, and
Turkish traditions, and the aging former rabbi of the Sephardic
community of Havana.
And at the end of the journey, the video daringly explores the life
of the filmmaker herself as she returns home. We follow her as she
learns family secrets from her Sephardic relatives in Miami, then
moves on to an encounter with her Sephardic father, who distrusts her
motives in making the film, and finally see her interacting with her
brother, a jazz musician who questions the purpose of anthropology
and her hunger to travel to other places.
Issues of diversity and multiculturalism are presented through an
examination of Jewish identity as it merges with Cuban and Latino
identity. Stereotypes and mainstream images of both Jews and Latinos
are challenged by showing that Jews can be Latinos and Latinos can be
Sephardic Jews view themselves as Hispanic people who are connected
to both the Arab and African worlds because of their history of
cultural and emotional interpenetration with those worlds. They
descend from the Jewish populations expelled by the Spanish
Inquisition in the fifteenth century. "Sepharad" means Spain in
Sephardic Jews are notable for having clung with a passion to their
nostalgia for Spain and their love for the Spanish language, despite
having been forced to leave Spain because of their ethnic and
religious identity. They are misunderstood and often discriminated
against by the mainstream Eastern European Jewish world, which can
only imagine Jewish identity in terms of the novels of Philip Roth
and the movies of Woody Allen.
Beyond the Jewish world, Sephardic Jews are virtually unknown as a
community and they are almost invisible in the contemporary world of
literature and the arts. The Cuban Sephardic community, both on and
off the island, offers so rare a mix of cultural traditions--Spanish,
Turkish, African, Jewish, Cuban, and American--that it remains a
mystery and has not yet been portrayed in any depth in literature,
art, or film.
Adio Kerida is a story of continuing diasporas and intercultural
adaptations. Thus, when the filmmaker's mother blissfully digs her
teeth into a mango synonymous with the flavor and the scent of a Cuba
she left behind, we are reminded of Proust's madeleine, and led to
reflect on the search for a lost time that continues to leave its
mark on the fleeting moments of the present.
En Español: <http://www.ruthbehar.com/ak_about_espanol.html>
About Ruth Behar: <http://www.ruthbehar.com/ak_about_ruth.html>.
Order _Adio Kerida_ at <http://www.wmm.com/Catalog/pages/c598.htm>.
* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://solidarity.igc.org/>
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